1. Qat (pronounced “cut”), also known a Khat or Gat, is a plant that’s been chewed for centuries in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Penninsula.
2. Qat is a stimulant with amphetimine-like properties that can induce hyperactivity and euphoria.
3. Although Qat can lead to dependency and abuse, it is not considered as addictive as alcohol or nicotine.
4. Qat is best chewed fresh from the farm. Dried Qat isn’t nearly as powerful. Vendors will sell Qat with peanuts or bubble gum to make chewing the raw leaves and stems more palatable.
5. Qat is widely regarded to taste terrible. It is always described as sour. Since it is an evergreen shrub, chewing Qat is frequently likened to chewing pine needles.
6. Qat can lead to loss of appetitie, depression, hallucinations, psychosis, ulcers, constipation, hemorrhoids, strokes and heart attacks.
7. Qat can also lead to oral and throat cancer.
8. Qat is chewed by an estimated 10 million people every day, but mostly in Africa and the Middle East. Qat is illegal in most of the western world, including the United States.
9. Qat is especially prevalent in Yemen, where it is chewed by 70–80% of Yemenis between 16 and 50 years old.
10. Qat is primarily a male pastime in Yemen. Qat chewing among women is frowned upon.
11. It is estimated that Yemenis spend about 14.6 million hours a day chewing qat.
12. Activists are concerned qat is stifling the potential of Yemen. Poor families spend half their yearly income on qat, the unemployed chew qat up to 8 hours a day and hospitals are filled with qat addicts suffering from cancer and infections.
13. Qat farming and production is dominated by Yemen’s tribal leaders, politicians and military officers.
14. Qat production also consumes most of Yemen’s resources. An estimated 40% of Yemen’s dwindling water supply goes to qat farming. As a result, the Yemeni capital of Sanaa is expected to be the first major city in the world to run out of water.
15. And lest we forget, this is what you look like when you chew qat.
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